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A bicycle commuter who rides four miles to work, five days a week, avoids 2,000 miles of driving and about 2,000 pounds of CO2 emissions each year.

Bike sharing in Chicago rolls along

Chicago's fledgling bike-share program may be on track for substantial expansion over the next year or two. Bike Chicago currently runs a bike-share program with roughly 100 bikes available at six stations at tourist areas in downtown Chicago. And Bike Chicago recently announced a new bike-share program at the UIC campus, which doubles the number of bikes and stations.

A robust bike share program that connects major destinations would include thousands of bikes, and cities like Minneapolis-St. Paul, Washington DC and Denver are scaling up programs with similar goals.

Recently, the Chicago Dept. of Transportation (CDOT) hired consultants to conduct a feasibility study to identify options for a large-scale bike-share program. In addition to identifying where bike-share stations should be located and how many bikes to put on the streets, the analysis will look at different ways to fund the program.

For example, the Nice Ride bike-share program in Minneapolis-St. Paul uses a combination of corporate donations (the main sponsor is Blue Cross Blue Shield), government funding and foundation dollars, with the program run by a non-profit organization. New York City, conversely, wants to hire for-profit company, and the city would only provide space for the bike stations and the right to advertise at the stations—but no funding.

Chicago DOT has applied for federal funding to support a bike-sharing program—just in case public funding is needed here. Active Trans is working closely with CDOT and prospective corporate donors to move this along. I recently used the DC bike-share program when I was at the League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Summit, and was really impressed. We're committed to getting a large-scale program here in Chicago!